Worst Drought in More Than a Century Strikes Texas Shale Gas Boom  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Bloomberg has an article on competition between farmers and frackers for scarce water in drought stricken Texas - Worst Drought in More Than a Century Strikes Texas Oil Boom.

The worst Texas drought since record-keeping began 116 years ago may crimp an oil and natural- gas drilling boom as government officials ration water supplies crucial to energy exploration.

In the hardest-hit areas, water-management districts are warning residents and businesses to curtail usage from rivers, lakes and aquifers. The shortage is forcing oil companies to go farther afield to buy water from farmers, irrigation districts and municipalities, said Erasmo Yarrito Jr., the state’s overseer of water supplies from the Rio Grande River.

Concern over water usage is especially acute in southern Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale area because drilling there is more water-intensive than other regions, said Robert Mace, a deputy executive administrator of the Texas Water Development Board. “It’s pretty dry down here and a lot of oil companies are looking for water," Mace said.

The water crisis in Texas, the biggest oil- and gas- producing state in the U.S., highlights a continuing debate in North America and Europe over the impact on water supplies of a production technique called hydraulic fracturing. Environmental groups are concerned the so-called fracking method may pose a contamination threat, while farmers in arid regions like south Texas face growing competition for scarce water. …

The Eagle Ford’s peculiar geology means it takes three to four times as much water to fracture as the Barnett Shale near Fort Worth, said Mace, of the state water board. Fracking a single Eagle Ford well requires as much as 13 million gallons of water, enough to supply the cooking, washing and drinking needs of 240 adults for an entire year, he said.

“This is not the drilling your grandparents knew in west Texas," said Sharon Wilson, an organizer for Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project, which lobbies for tougher government regulation of oil drillers. “It’s a heavy industrial activity with massive amounts of water and chemicals."

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